The Hamlet Challenge Entry No 1: Tis Pity She’s a Whore by Cheek By Jowl

On Monday, I was at the Barbican to see Tis Pity She’s a Whore, a production by Cheek By Jowl. To my shame, I hadn’t seen a Cheek by Jowl production before, but on this evidence, I will be coming back. Punchy (in every sense of the word), sexy, gruesome, it was as much about words, as it was about visual beauty and bodily fluids.

In the second scene, when Grimaldi and Vasques have a bare knuckles, Fight Club style, fight, someone yells at some point “A hit. A very palpable hit“. The line, that doesn’t exist in the text, is a refernce to Hamlet, uttered by Osric at the start of the final – let’s see how many people we can kill in less than ten minutes – sword fight between Hamlet and Laertes.

Saying that Hamlet is referenced a lot  is self evident, but I always get a thrill when I spot a reference, so for the next year, I decided to play the Hamlet Challenge game.

The rules are simple:

1) For a year, I ‘ll post about all the Hamlet references I spot in fiction.

2) It has to be about something I watched or read, and can’t be a reference someone else told me about but I didn’t experience.

3) Other people can point out things and subtleties I missed.

I am curious how far I can get in a year, and which Hamlet reference will have the most mentions. “To Be or Not to Be” is the most famous quote but I think Yorick is in with a chance.

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